Guiding Lights Casting Shadows


cardinal3_icon.gif peter_icon.gif

Scene Title Guiding Lights Casting Shadows
Synopsis At the request of Edgar, Richard Cardinal meets up with Peter on the rooftop of the Deveaux Building, and the two unite over a common enemy and a common goal — making martyrs.
Date September 21, 2010

Deveaux Building

Surprise of surprises, it's actually night.

This may be one of the first times that Richard Cardinal has ever been called to a clandestine meeting during the hours of the day when he's actually awake. While dawn is rapidly approaching, the hour of three in the morning provides a chilly and dark view of a somber, moonlit landscape. From the rooftop of the iconic Deveaux Building, the ruins of Midtown look the part of the tomb that they are during these dark hours. Tiny fires lit amidst the ruins by transient and vagrants living in the hollowed out shells of civilization's scar dot the blue of night under silver moonlight.

From his perch on the roof, leaning against the brickwork railing beside the twin cherub statues and arch decorating the roof's edge, Peter Petrelli looks lost in thought. The crumbling remains of pigeon coops are shattered at his back, long since destroyed by the blastwave that claimed Midtown, little more than a tangle of chicken-wire and broken wood flinders now.

Hands folded together, Peter stands with shoulders hunched forward and brow furrowed, a red scarf loosely wrapped around his neck and hanging limp down his chest, the dark fabric of his jacket and cargo pants contrasting against the vibrant red of the scarf. That he's worried is painted on his face, that he's anxious shows in his stiff posture and the nervous tap of one thumb against his hand. That he's ready is because he's here.

There's no turning back now.

The shadows of the cherubs are darker splotches amongst the early morning shadows, broken angels that speak of their failure to protect the shattered landscape of Midtown from the man that leans against them even now. Those shadows stretch suddenly, silhouettes of feathered wings erupting anew across the rooftop before drawing back into the form of a man in a flat outline of darkness across scattered bits of rubble and debris.

"I have a painting of this place," Richard Cardinal's voice lifts in a shadowy whisper, "It's of a future that never happened. Something your father was trying to do, actually… your father…"

Posture straightening, Peter leans away from the spreading shadow with a narrowing of his eyes, then a resigned sigh that deflates all of the stiffness in his shoulders. Slouching forward to rest his arms' weight on the railing, Peter hangs his head and lets his bangs sweep down to either side of his face. "I was worried you weren't going to show… I wasn't sure if what Edgar had to tell you would've made sense, or…"

Trailing off, Peter shakes his head, then turns to look towards the direction of the shadow. "We're clear, up here. No phones, nobody's around. I need to know what you know, Richard. I mean— I'm assuming you know something about what's going on in Messiah. You haven't put up a fight about Claire being with us at all, which…" there's a furrow of Peter's brows, "well, you're a fighter."

"Of course I do…" An ephemeral little chuckle, although even as far as the shadow's whispered tones go there's little humor to it, "…I know more about what's going on in Messiah than you do, probably. You aren't stupid, I know that. Claire was there to keep an eye on all of you, originally, but that was before… before…"

There's a few moments of silence, and then Richard asks carefully, "Before I tell you what I know, what do you know - or suspect?"

There's an askance look to Cardinal, followed by a throaty laugh, "That's a change of tune," Peter admits wryly, "you thinking I'm not stupid." Snorting out another laugh, Peter looks out and over the railing, towards the desolate, shadowed streets of Midtown beyond where he leans. Staring for a long while in silence, there's obviously gears working behind Peter's eyes, even when they slowly slide shut.

"I'm not sure what I know… I just— you know Ash, right?" Brown eyes avert from the ruins to Cardinal, "Tall, athletic guy, really bull-headed? He works with me in Messiah, and— he's sharper than he looks, when he isn't being tinfoil hat paranoid. He makes Cat look well-adjusted most of the time." Sliding his tongue over his lips, Peter shakes his head slowly.

"After we hit Biomere and got Rebel access to the Company database there, Ash said he saw something odd in one of Risa's postcognitive visions. It sounded like something was being set up, prior to our arrival, some suits moving around and shuffling details. One of the guys Ash didn't recognize, the other was a target Messiah went after months ago. Howard Lemay. The one Claire took the German's file from…"

Turning to look back out to the ruins again, Peter's brows furrow together. "Ash said he felt like something was suspicious, that he had a bad gut feeling, and I brushed him off. The last few weeks, I've been— re-thinking things? I haven't been sleeping much, since I got back from Apollo; a couple hours a night here and there. I figured it was a side-effect of the Formula. When I picked up Claire's ability a few weeks ago, I— started feeling less worn down, less mentally exhausted and just… things started coming together better, you know?"

Peter's eyes narrow, "I started thinking back, realizing that there's— there's pieces of my memory that are missing. I don't remember meeting Rupert for the first time. I— I remember talking about Messiah with him, vaguely… something about Shedda Dinu, but there's— there's weeks of memory that are just a blur. I'm worried, Richard, that— even if it wasn't something Rupert did, that there's something going on. That they did something to me on the George Washington, or— or that the Formula is doing something to me."

Exhaling a sigh, Peter leans forward enough to rest his forehead against the railing. "Rupert's plans just— they started to look weird to me now, knowing everything I know. He's been— I don't know, it's like there's some bigger picture going on that I'm missing."

"That's surprisingly insightful of him…" A thoughtful murmur from the shadows, slithering along up the edge of the rooftop and wrapping about the cherub that rises beside the other man, blasted stone cast into darkness, the voice of Richard Cardinal from the mouth of a broken angel, "…and I never thought you were stupid, Peter. I just think that you're an idiot sometimes… most of the time…"

There is, after all, a subtle difference. Peter may have rolled a 16 for Intelligence, but he ended up somewhere in the low single digits for Wisdom, as far as Cardinal's concerned.

"Do you trust me, Peter? Maybe not — to do what you'd choose, maybe not my judgement," he asks suddenly, "But enough to believe me when I answer you? Because they're… you're not going to like the answers… the answers…"

"You've earned that much," Peter quietly offers, leaning up from the railing, his arms straight and hands pressed to the concrete sill, wind blowing thorugh his hair in the cold and the dark. "As much as we don't see eye to eye on things, we're fighting the same war…" looking askance to Cardinal, Peter's brows furrow. "Whether I trust the sources of your information is something else. But— right now— I just want things put out on the table, because something is wrong, and I'm afraid we might not have time to fix it."

Looking away, Peter closes his eyes and exhales a weary sigh. "Claire's… bad, Richard. She's really bad, she's messed up." Biting down on his lower lip, Peter lifts one hand to brush his bangs behind one ear, then clasps both hands around the back of his neck and turns away from the railing. "She had a breakdown a couple weeks ago, Melissa and Ling found her carving up her arm, crying, writing on the goddamned wall in her own blood…"

Brown eyes go wide, distant, and Peter looks away slowly. "I— haven't— gone to see her. I don't even know what to do."

"What?" A sharp hiss of voice from the shadows, Richard Cardinal's very substance seeming to ripple as if trying to rear up like a cobra - although he fails, of course, remaining two dimensional and still against the stone, "You… you're her uncle for Christ's sake! I figured that if I could trust anyone to protect her, to watch after her… it'd be you…"

"What happened to her, what…" Cardinal trails off, "…oh. God. Wait. You… you said that you started thinking clearly… when you copied Claire's ability? …regeneration…"

"I don't know what to do!" Peter suddenly shouts, waving one hand in the air, "I don't— " his hand comes up to brush against his right temple, "I don't know how to make her better again, Cardinal. I… I'm afraid I'm just going to mess her up worse. She's— she's been bad since she got back from her mission in Madagascar, Richard. She's— she has a lot of bitterness, a lot of anger." Peter's eyes slowly close, one hand rubbing across his brow as he paces away, exhaling a weary sigh as boots crunch broken wood underfoot.

Only in that distance does he start thinking more clearly on what it is Cardinal was putting together. "Yeah, yeah it— I still hardly sleep, but now I don't need to, not with regeneration, not as much. I learned that after the bomb, that an hour of sleep and I was mostly good to go. It's just— I don't know why I'd had such a hard time sleeping, my brain just doesn't want to shut off. It's why I keep my day job driving the ambulance, and still do everything for Messiah. It's like— I don't know— it's like my brain wants me to live two lives."

"She's — you're — you're regenerating brain cells. You're healing induced brain damage. Christ, I didn't even… I didn't even know that was possible," Cardinal's voice has returned to its usual quiet murmur, "God. Send her home, Peter. We'll take care of her. She's in danger if she stays with you all, I think… I think…"

There's a few long moments of silence, and then he says bluntly, "At some point after you got back from Apollo, it must've been shortly after that last argument we had— when I asked you to heal me?— during some period that Kaylee wasn't around… you were picked up by the government."

"Rupert Carmichael worked you over with his ability for about a week."

Everything falls to the side there, Claire, the regeneration, everything. Peter's brows furrow, his head cants to the side and one hand comes up to hold at the side of his head. Eyes stay shut, brows furrow tighter, and Peter exhales a strained sigh. "Cardinal," he whispers in a hushed fashion, "you— you're saying that Rupert works for the government?" Brown eyes slowly open, and Peter's head shakes from side to side slowly.

"Richard, he— Rupert's been with the movement since it started. He finances PARIAH and stayed with them during the split with Phoenix. He organized Shedda Dinu with PARIAH's survivors, he— Richard I can't— I can't believe he works for the government, for my brother." The last term is added with all of the vitriol that Peter feels it deserves.

"Even if he really does have his ability still, why? Why would— why would he be doing this? Why destroy all these government buildings, why do all of this damage? What could they possibly have to gain by doing this, by releasing prisoners from the Institute's captivity, everything we did at Building 26, it— it doesn't make any sense."

Or Peter isn't allow to make sense of it himself.

He can't connect the puzzle pieces on his own.

That's what Richard's there for.

"Messiah hasn't done anything, Peter," the shadowman insists, "Every single site you hit was either cleared out of everything but rented mercenaries or was a front for the Company. Why do you think that you all take such public credit for every attack - but you haven't tried to publically renounce the claims of civilian deaths at all? Rupert's one of vice-president Mitchell's closest confidants, Peter. You're a false flag operation. You're public relations for the cause of Humanis First and a weapon to turn against the Institute's rivals."

"There's… it's possible that he's using Mitchell, but the only reason I can come up with why he'd be doing it this way…" A long, silent pause, and Cardinal admits, "…there was a… plan, I came up with once. A long-term plan to ensure that the Evolved ended up on top. If he's not actually Mitchell's creature, then the only thing I can think is that he's trying to pull it off… pull it off…"

"No," comes out in a sharp but hushed breath, "no that's— " Richard Cardinal is Peter Petrelli's own person Darth Vader, and this may well be high up enough to be Bespin. "It's not possible," Peter grates out as he storms away from the sculpture on the railing, rakes both hands thorugh his hand and laces his fingers together at the back of his neck, then turns around sharply to look back at Richard. "Where— how did you even find this out? Someone could— this could be a play Richard, trying ot turn us all on each other— trying to make us not see who's really pulling the strings."

Grabbing at straws, Peter scrubs his hands down his neck and then back up again, fingers sliding into the shaggy back of his hair. "Richard… Richard if— if this has all been some— " lips downturn into a sharp frown, "if this has all been some sort of game, I swear to God, I'll kill him myself."

Feeling the fire in his words, Peter breathes in sharply and exhales a growled sigh. "Who told you this!?" It's accusatory, inflamed, he needs something more tangible.

"You know it's not a play, Peter," Cardinal replies sharply, "You can put the pieces together now that I've put them on the table for you. Don't insult your own intelligence. You said yourself that Ash saw that they were setting things up like a stage show for you all before you arrived. Why can't you remember when you met him? Why did you only start thinking about this when you took Claire's power?"

"For God's sake, do you really think Claire would have volunteered to be a suicide bomber of her own free will?"

Drawing in a sharp breath, Peter turns his back to the sound of Cardinal's voice, lifting up a hand to his forehead and sweeping dark bangs back from his face. "kay," is breathily exhaled as a shaking hand is pulled down from Peter's face, "okay… we— we need to be one-hundred percent on this, I need to be one-hundred percent on this." Turning slowly, Peter offers a leveled look around the rooftop, trying to find where Cardinal's shadow is, but not quite able to pinpoint the location.

"Rupert wants us to assassinate Praeger and Mayes, Ash was already worried about the plan and I think some others weren't entirely on board. If this is some sort of play, than— if he wants those two dead we have to do something about it. But I can't just turn on Rupert and accuse him of anything without proof, or Messiah will tear itself apart…"

Sighing again, Peter starts pacing through the rubble of the pigeon coops. "There's— I'm not sure if Rebel has been compromised by this, I'm not sure how in he is, but— he has a body." Looking back to the last place he'd heard Cardinal's voice, peter shakes his head. "It's a loner," is a little sarcastic sounding, "Chinese national, I think. If he has a body, he might be susceptible to Rupert's ability. I just— I don't know."

Sliding his tongue over his lips, Peter look down to the dust, tangled chicken wire, and broken wood and tarnished old shell casings he'd left up here at his feet. "We need to see what it is Ash saw," Peter suggests with a slow shake of his head, "we can take Risa with us, go back into Biomere, between Edgar, Ash, you and me we should be able to get in no problem. We have Risa show us what she saw, we find out just how bad this is. Then— " there's a slow shake of Peter's head, "then we start getting proof."

"I can make sure they keep their heads down," Cardinal admits, "I have… connections that I can use to keep them out of the public eye for a little while. Knowing Rupert, he's going to want the assassinations as public as possible, so that'll delay him…"

The shadow 'exhales' a sigh, "I wish I could tell you my source, but… they've got family. They took a huge… huge risk even telling me this much. They're my deepest source, and if they make one wrong move, they're dead."

"That sounds like a plan."

"I'll see if I can track Ash down," Peter offers in a hushed tone of voice, rubbing one hand at his forehead, "Risa won't be hard to find. If Biomere pulls up something useful, then we'll know that we have more to look for. We might be able to find something at Rupert's estate too, he used to run his Shedda Dinu operations right out of his house. We just have to be able to bypass the security there," brown eyes sweep to the floor, then alight to the sky as Peter shakes his head.

"Richard…" there's a sweep of Peter's tongue over the inside of his cheek, "Richard I thought— I thought Messiah was going to make a difference. Losing it now— losing— " his eyes shut, "if we pull back the curtain and show people what Rupert's really doing, it's going to destroy this organization," and as Peter looks back down to the source of the sigh, there's worry in his expression. "There's going to be a lot of dangerous, angry people that I won't be able to control anymore. I— I don't even know if I do now."

Covering his eyes with one hand as he pinches the bridge of his nose, Peter's voice is a worried timbre. "I don't know how we're going to avoid a catastrophe…"

"They still can make a difference," argues Cardinal, although his voice is almost… gentle as he says it, empathizing with the other man's angst for once rather than dismissing it, "We don't have to rip them apart. He's only your — tactician. If we have him removed… come up with a good story…"

"…we can martyr him for your cause before he martyrs you for his."

"That was Rupert's initial suggestion you know," Peter quietly offers, no hint of irony in his voice, "for our name. Martyr." There's a downwards turn of the corners of his mouth, an expression that has Peter shifting to the side and lifting up one hand to rub at his cheek. "Alright," Peter exhales tiredly, looking out to the ruins beyond the rooftop again, considering the implications of what's been revealed here in silent worry, a worry that will only grow as the morning hours press on.

It's still a few hours before dawn, still a few hours left of the night's dark and the moon's bright light cast down from a high perch in the starlit heavens. But like that single ray of light rising up out of the ruins of Midtown, Peter has found his own guiding light, in a deceptively dark shadow. "If we can prove that Rupert's screwing us all," Peter admits in a hushed tone of voice, looking askance to the cherub statues.

"I'll hammer the first nail into the cross we pin him too."

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